Lack of domestic battery production could short German automakers’ EV plans

BMW X5 eDrive concept front three quarter plugged in
As automakers ramp up efforts to produce more electric and hybrid vehicles in their lineups for the near future, this ultimately has increased the demand for battery production. However, analysts fear some companies could struggle with this demand, specifically German car companies — and that is because none of them currently build and produce their own batteries. Instead, they have to rely on third-party supplies, mainly from Asia. This has German car companies in a bind, not just with themselves, but the German government as well.

According to The Verge,  Germany’s automobile industry is incapable of producing its own batteries. That’s because none of the automakers and parts suppliers in Deutschland prepared for this electric vehicle and hybrid boom. Instead, they’re relying on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean battery production, which has German chancellor, Angela Merkel, frustrated and worried about Germany’s economy.

Merkel openly pressured German automakers and expressed discomfort with how the car companies — the biggest commercial sector for the country’s whole economy — are relying on Asian companies for its batteries. Ultimately, Merkel and her government simply don’t like the idea that its most crucial industry is depending on foreign suppliers — especially since they’re not European companies. Further, some of the automakers have already run into complications with negotiating public contracts.

Up until 2015, Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, had a battery cell production facility in Saxony. The plan was to win contracts from its fellow German competitors and to build the business together and make it profitable. However, that fell through, particularly since at the time, none of the German automakers had an attractive hybrid and electric vehicles to sell, so the project was canned for failing as a business plan.

This apparently led to a ripple effect where other suppliers and companies, like Bosch and Continental, also pulled back on any plans to produce battery cells because of a lack of confidence in the business model. This lack of confidence has the entire German auto industry apprehensive about getting into battery production because of the high costs associated with building the facilities, and even producing the batteries and further developing the technology.

For these reasons, the companies said that relying on the Asian companies currently is not an issue and it doesn’t make sense for German automakers or suppliers to build batteries with today’s technology just yet.

The situation is also partially caused by Asian companies having more expertise in the technology of the lithium-ion cell business, due to its superiority in the consumer electronics industry. It’s also further likely that the Asian companies favor their domestic automaker partners, giving them the advantage in electric and hybrid vehicles.

But as electric vehicle and hybrid demand continues to grow and German automakers keep promising to build more, analysts say the need for a battery production facility on home turf will continue to rise.

Smart Home

Voice technology is useful, in demand, and not moving fast enough

A new survey commissioned by IT analytics firm AppDynamics indicates that enterprise companies aren't adopting advances in voice technology fast enough to keep up with demand, especially from millennials.
Emerging Tech

These flying cars want to take your commute to new heights

The future is closer than you'd think: Companies around the world are working on flying car models, with many successful tests! Here are all the flying cars and taxis currently in development, and how they work!

End your dependence on fossil fuels with one of these amazing electric cars

Electric cars are getting smarter, safer, and more capable with each passing year. Here are our picks for the best electric cars on the market, whether you're looking for a performance ride or a family-friendly crossover.

Lucid Motors accepts $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabian fund

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia will invest $1 billion in upstart electric car company Lucid Motors. Lucid hopes to launch a Tesla-fighting luxury sedan called the Air by 2020.
Smart Home

Here’s how to pre-order everything Amazon announced this week

Amazon announced new devices available in its Echo, Fire TV, and AmazonBasics lineups. Most of the devices aren't available quite yet but if you head over to Amazon, you can pre-order them.

Tesla says dash cam feature using car’s built-in cameras is coming soon

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is promising the next version of Autopilot, which is expected imminently, will include a dash cam feature that uses the car's built-in cameras. It's a feature many Tesla drivers have long been asking for.
Product Review

With the XT4, Cadillac's tech game goes from frustrating to first class

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is the American luxury brand’s first small SUV, slotting under the XT5. Aimed at younger buyers, the XT4 is intended to be a nurturing product — something to introduce new customers and lead to future Cadillac…

Amazon Alexa can now hitch a ride in any car with Echo Auto

At its massive hardware event, Amazon unveiled Echo Auto, a dashboard-mounted device that adds Alexa to any car. It's one of myriad ways Amazon is trying to integrate Alexa with cars.

Aced it! Tesla’s Model 3 earns a five-star crash-test rating

The results are in and they're great: the rear-wheel drive Tesla Model 3 has aced the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's different crash tests and earned a five-star safety rating.

Audi’s subscription service lets you roll in style without commitment

Audi expanded its mobility options by launching a car subscription service in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For $1,395, buyers can choose from five models (including the Q7, the Q5, and the A4) and swap cars twice a month.

Stop the madness! Here's how to fix those squeaky brakes

Few noises are worse than the sound of squeaky brakes. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to go about fixing the issue without giving up your weekend or investing a small fortune. Here's what you need to know.

Get your camera out: Mercedes-AMG Project One supercar tests on public roads

The Mercedes-AMG Project One is a hybrid supercar incorporating genuine Formula One racing DNA. The $2.7 million Project One is entering its final stage of development, including public-road testing.

At Bonneville, a 210-mph Volkswagen Jetta is nothing unusual

The Bonneville Salt Flats are the ultimate temple of speed. Follow along as Volkswagen attempts to set a record with a modified economy car, and see what makes Bonneville so special.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Click-to-brew beer, comfy headlamps, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!